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Visitor

Visitor in C#

Visitor is a behavioral design pattern that allows adding new behaviors to existing class hierarchy without altering any existing code.

Read why Visitors can’t be simply replaced with method overloading in our article Visitor and Double Dispatch.

Learn more about Visitor

Usage of the pattern in C#

Complexity:

Popularity:

Usage examples: Visitor isn’t a very common pattern because of its complexity and narrow applicability.

Conceptual Example

This example illustrates the structure of the Visitor design pattern. It focuses on answering these questions:

  • What classes does it consists of?
  • What roles do these classes play?
  • In what way the elements of the pattern are related?

Program.cs: Conceptual Example

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace RefactoringGuru.DesignPatterns.Visitor.Conceptual
{
    // The Component interface declares an `accept` method that should take the
    // base visitor interface as an argument.
    public interface IComponent
    {
        void Accept(IVisitor visitor);
    }

    // Each Concrete Component must implement the `Accept` method in such a way
    // that it calls the visitor's method corresponding to the component's
    // class.
    public class ConcreteComponentA : IComponent
    {
        // Note that we're calling `VisitConcreteComponentA`, which matches the
        // current class name. This way we let the visitor know the class of the
        // component it works with.
        public void Accept(IVisitor visitor)
        {
            visitor.VisitConcreteComponentA(this);
        }

        // Concrete Components may have special methods that don't exist in
        // their base class or interface. The Visitor is still able to use these
        // methods since it's aware of the component's concrete class.
        public string ExclusiveMethodOfConcreteComponentA()
        {
            return "A";
        }
    }

    public class ConcreteComponentB : IComponent
    {
        // Same here: VisitConcreteComponentB => ConcreteComponentB
        public void Accept(IVisitor visitor)
        {
            visitor.VisitConcreteComponentB(this);
        }

        public string SpecialMethodOfConcreteComponentB()
        {
            return "B";
        }
    }

    // The Visitor Interface declares a set of visiting methods that correspond
    // to component classes. The signature of a visiting method allows the
    // visitor to identify the exact class of the component that it's dealing
    // with.
    public interface IVisitor
    {
        void VisitConcreteComponentA(ConcreteComponentA element);

        void VisitConcreteComponentB(ConcreteComponentB element);
    }

    // Concrete Visitors implement several versions of the same algorithm, which
    // can work with all concrete component classes.
    //
    // You can experience the biggest benefit of the Visitor pattern when using
    // it with a complex object structure, such as a Composite tree. In this
    // case, it might be helpful to store some intermediate state of the
    // algorithm while executing visitor's methods over various objects of the
    // structure.
    class ConcreteVisitor1 : IVisitor
    {
        public void VisitConcreteComponentA(ConcreteComponentA element)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(element.ExclusiveMethodOfConcreteComponentA() + " + ConcreteVisitor1");
        }

        public void VisitConcreteComponentB(ConcreteComponentB element)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(element.SpecialMethodOfConcreteComponentB() + " + ConcreteVisitor1");
        }
    }

    class ConcreteVisitor2 : IVisitor
    {
        public void VisitConcreteComponentA(ConcreteComponentA element)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(element.ExclusiveMethodOfConcreteComponentA() + " + ConcreteVisitor2");
        }

        public void VisitConcreteComponentB(ConcreteComponentB element)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(element.SpecialMethodOfConcreteComponentB() + " + ConcreteVisitor2");
        }
    }

    public class Client
    {
        // The client code can run visitor operations over any set of elements
        // without figuring out their concrete classes. The accept operation
        // directs a call to the appropriate operation in the visitor object.
        public static void ClientCode(List<IComponent> components, IVisitor visitor)
        {
            foreach (var component in components)
            {
                component.Accept(visitor);
            }
        }
    }

    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            List<IComponent> components = new List<IComponent>
            {
                new ConcreteComponentA(),
                new ConcreteComponentB()
            };

            Console.WriteLine("The client code works with all visitors via the base Visitor interface:");
            var visitor1 = new ConcreteVisitor1();
            Client.ClientCode(components,visitor1);

            Console.WriteLine();

            Console.WriteLine("It allows the same client code to work with different types of visitors:");
            var visitor2 = new ConcreteVisitor2();
            Client.ClientCode(components, visitor2);
        }
    }
}

Output.txt: Execution result

The client code works with all visitors via the base Visitor interface:
A + ConcreteVisitor1
B + ConcreteVisitor1

It allows the same client code to work with different types of visitors:
A + ConcreteVisitor2
B + ConcreteVisitor2

Visitor in Other Languages

Design Patterns: Visitor in Java Design Patterns: Visitor in PHP Design Patterns: Visitor in Python Design Patterns: Visitor in Ruby Design Patterns: Visitor in Swift Design Patterns: Visitor in TypeScript